Sweed is learning about all things Pittsburgh
Newest Steeler receiver is soaking in all facts about his newest team and city of residence
By Suzanne Halliburton
Monday, June 23, 2008
Former Texas receiver Limas Sweed is in learning mode, as he counts the days to his very first pro training camp.
His learning isn't concentrated solely on the playbook the Pittsburgh Steelers provided for him once Sweed flew to his new home in late April.
He wants to know everything about Pittsburgh — a town he had not seen until the Steelers selected him in the second round of the draft, his teammates and the majestic history of the Steelers.
So far, Sweed, who has been nicknamed "Real Country" by his new teammates, has been acing his lessons during his crash course on everything black and yellow.
The first time he called his parents, Sweed said, "This is real. You have to come with it every day. But I like it."
The learning started on his first plane to trip to Pittsburgh. A man sitting next to him was a Steelers fan and happily provided Sweed some need-to-know facts.
When Sweed was participating in a rookie media orientation earlier this month, he was able to answer "Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio," when asked the names of the three rivers that flow through the city.
He also was taught to carry a tape recorder for when he's interviewed to eliminate inaccurate quotes.
Other than a diamond stud earring, Sweed won't wear expensive, attention-catching jewelry, knowing that as a pro, he could be an attractive target for robbery.
When Sweed and the Steelers rookies took a two-hour bus ride for a mandatory tour of the NFL Hall of Fame, the young receiver won the trivia contest.
He earned a coffee mug, which he now keeps in his locker, because he knew that the first time the Steelers played for the title was in Super Bowl IX.
Sweed, who will wear No. 14 in the pros, probably will be in the Steelers lineup this season. Pittsburgh hasn't had a big receiver — Sweed is 6-4, 219 pounds — since Plaxico Buress left them in 2004.
But Sweed also is helping with special teams. He's being used as a speed guy off the edge to put more pressure on opposing punters. He didn't play special teams with the Longhorns.
"He is not afraid to ask questions," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters earlier this month. "His passion for the game shows through the minute he walks into the building, which allows you to indicate that he has a chance to be what we think he is capable of being."
Sweed has come back to Austin several times since he was drafted. He visited the UT football office earlier this month, and collected tips from Longhorn staffers.
Sweed took notes when UT associate athletic director Cleve Bryant told him what kind of gloves to buy for cold games and how to mix Vaseline and powder to keep his feet dry and warm.
Bryant used to coach receivers with the New England Patriots so he knows snow, wind and sleet.
Sweed's next trip to Austin will be for a camp he's coordinating with former teammates Michael and Marcus Griffin on July 19 at Pflugerville High School. He also wants to do a similar camp in his hometown of Brenham.
"You've got to give back to where you come from," he said.
Ya gotta love this guys attitude.